Editor's Note: There's little better than a good drink deal, particularly in a pleasant setting (with a bite or two) in those post-work, pre-sunset hours. We'll be checking them out each week and letting you in our finds around New York. Got a favorite happy hour to recommend? Let us know in the comments.
There are quite a few bars in New York that offer complimentary bar snacks at certain hours. But when I've had a few glasses of wine, I don't want a few dainty olives or crackers; I want warm, substantial polenta cakes or pizza sliced into tiny slivers, perfect for sharing and nibbling.
That's what you get at Emporio on Mott Street in Soho, where between 5:00 and 6:30pm every day of the week, snacks are laid out on the bar aperitivo-style for the taking. On our visit, cheesy polenta cakes were salty and creamy-middled and loaded with Parmesan; the pizza, while nothing remarkable, had good chew and flavor in the crust, the sauce fresh-tasting and light, the cheese creamy and sparingly applied. It's just crisp enough to hold its shape in finger-sized slivers, and tastes just fine at room temperature.
The house red and white wines are $4 per full-bellied glass; both a sweet but balanced Trebbiano and a juicy, light Montepulciano were terribly drinkable—it's afternoon-relaxation wine, not thinking wine, but that's just fine for a cheap happy hour. It's a lot better than house wine has to be. There was some confusion over whether an Aperol Spritzer was a valid happy hour cocktail, but the one we had would've been worth full price ($7) anyway, bubbly and bitter and totally refreshing. (Beer drinkers: Stella is $4 during happy hour.)
On a recent sunny Thursday, the bar seemed just about full, but two young men scooted over their chairs to make room. "We'll get out of your way," one said; "we work across the street. We're here all the time." I have to say that I would be, too.
231 Mott Street, New York NY 10012 (map)